Saturday, July 30, 2011

The games we play

*my column in the July 31, 2011 issue of Cordillera Today

Maybe it’s because the travesty has gone on for a very long time that we long for the revolution to be magically instantaneous. Like the way the first rain of May immediately wipes away all memories of summer
For more than three centuries we were enslaved by the Spanish colonizers, but just barely a year into Andres Bonifacio’s reign as Supremo of the Katipunan, the Magdalo faction led by Aguinaldo felt that it was already time for a change in government. Corazon Aquino became president of our country after more than a decade of martial law, and the following year, a series of attempts to overthrow her government were launched.

After a decade of rigged elections, unabated unjust killings and disappearances, “un-moderated” greed in government and other dishonourable and despicable acts committed by the very people to whom we entrusted our lives, Noynoy’s pitch, “Daang Matuwid,” struck a chord, and we, the people, decided it’s time we corrected the mistakes of the past decade, and elected him to lead us. And now a lot of us have given President Benigno Aquino III a failing grade. No less than Archbishop Oscar Cruz revealed early this year that there are moves to replace Aquino, then just a little over six months into his 6-year term, because of incompetence. Aquino was elected with the highest percentage of votes in the country’s post-EDSA history, yet the impression that we get today, a year after he took his oath of office, is that there is a clamor for change yet again.

Aquino, a failure? It’s way too early to make that judgement, I believe. I personally did not vote for him, but despite the obvious lapses of his regime, I am prepared to be pragmatic, and recognize that 12 months are not enough to make a 360-turn from the direction Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took this country down to from 2001 until June 30, 2010.

In the same way that while I did not personally vote for the current local leadership in Baguio, and though I have misgivings about some of their self-serving pronouncements that give the impression that a year into their terms and they’re still campaigning, and the direction our local executive and representative seem to be taking the city down to, it is too early to make a judgement. Maybe they’re right. I sure am hoping they’re right. And that soon, the city will be able to breathe, live a good life again, because “we stopped hauling garbage to Capas, Tarlac,” because of the “rehabilitation” of the Rose Garden, because of all the construction going on in the city, because they questioned the legality of the citizen’s initiative that is Panagbenga Park, etc.

In 2004, after a decade of musical chairs up in City Hall and the sudden transformation of Baguio from being a city in harmony with its natural environment to being a poster child for unsustainable development and the site of a hideous concrete tree, we said, “tama na, sobra na, palitan na,” and replaced the local leadership. Yet, a year later, we did nothing as sour-graping politicians and suspicious capitalists silenced our voices and removed our chosen one. Again in 2007, we let our voices be heard as we declared that we are never going back to traditional politics. But when we finally felt the effects of more than a decade of misdirected efforts – including sitting on the Solid Waste Management Act that resulted in a garbage crisis, we wanted all the problems solved in a mere three years. Never mind that we were already headed towards solutions, never mind that most of did not do our share to solve the crisis, we wanted the problem solved for us, immediately. And when the solution didn’t come fast enough, we decided to play Trip to Jerusalem again.

The first half of the game’s not even done yet, too early to tell if a substitution is absolutely necessary. Don’t leave the arena just yet, or better yet, keep on playing the game – remember, we chose the game and who we wanted to play with. Don’t judge P-Noy just yet, and Mayor Mauricio Domogan and Congressman Bernie Vergara too. But keep watching, keep playing. At the end of the day, we must remember that after all, we’re in the same team. Sometimes the captain’s replacement is unnecessary, sometimes we, the other players, just need to step up and play better. Just like the Azkals - when de facto top guys Caligdong and  Younghusband could not deliver, we saw how Schrock stepped up to lift us all up. Of course the Azkals lost in the end in this match, that only tells us that it can’t happen overnight, but their gallant effort gave us hope that one day, we’ll get where we want to be.  

We keep going for instant gratification, and look at us, still in a losing game. But that’s no reason to quit –keep playing, keep cheering, voicing out suggestions from the sidelines too. It’s way too early to give either a failing or a passing grade. Stay in the game – then after the cheerleaders finish entertaining us with their routine during breaks and at half time, then we can decide whether to go ahead with the current game plan, or change tactics, or players. 

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